While we’ve applauded recent moves in art history and media studies challenging the hegemony of the visual, why does the waxing art world topicality of “listening” seem to be inversely proportional to sound practitioners’ waning interest in it? Does it really have to turn up on e-flux before people pay attention? Haven’t musicians, composers, and sound artists all over the world been thinking listening for centuries?…

The contributors to Issue 2 face the immense material complexity of listening head on – physically, technically, formally, politically, socially. Their contributions continually orbit the question, ‘What is Listening?,’ all the while deftly dodging all manner of all too common platitudes. What emerges? Certainly not a single answer, but perhaps outlines of tendencies in what English refers to as sonic “flux:” the imbrication of listener and site, say, as Laska, Mullen, von Borries, and even Sabat tell us; the inseparability of listening and listener, of the particularity of a listening subject, as Bromely/Fesca, Chattopadhay, Javier, and Zevin/Ellis tell us; the intractability of listening and relationality, as English and Hutchinson write. Though her three scores are deliberately offered without comment, Matana Roberts’ immensely ambitious ongoing COIN COIN project might be seen as emblematic of the complex engagement of listening and history which our issue seeks to stake out. She reminds us that we must perpetually listen closer.

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